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A person dear to me is finishing her PhD and MD in the near future. As I have been reading the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, I am continually reminded of how she has embodied a tireless responsibility over the last decade for the uprooted, the imprisoned, and the vulnerable.

Philosophy—love of wisdom—prevents one from going back to sleep.

Q: How, concretely, is responsibility for the other translated? A: The other concerns me in all his material misery. It is a matter eventually of nourishing him, of clothing him. It is exactly the biblical assertion: clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give shelter to the shelterless. The material side of man, the material life of man concerns me, and, in the other, takes on for me an elevated signification and concerns my holiness…. As if with regard to the other I had responsibilities starting from eating and drinking.

The otherwise than being is attested to by exceptional people, by saints and just ones and by the “thirty-six unknown just ones” to whom the world owes its continued life.

[Shoshani] didn’t teach piety; he taught the texts. The texts are more fundamental—and vaster—than piety.

[Before the face of the other] I am he who finds the resources to respond to the call.

The study of the Torah is this infinity that is never finished, where the light gained illumines above all the insufficiencies of the light acquired

The face offers itself to your compassion and to your obligation.

It is in the certitude that one must yield to the other the first place in everything, from the après vous before an open door right up to the disposition—hardly possible, but holiness demands it—to die for the other.

Several years ago I received a visit from an Israeli originally from Eastern Europe. Walking into my home, he saw the complete works of Pushkin on the bookshelves: “One can see right away,” he said, “that one is in a Jewish house!” This was a sure and objectively valid index.

I do not take literally the ensemble of beliefs. The Torah is not a picture book. I take worship seriously, because those venerable gestures maintain and exalt man’s humanity, such as it has been passed down over innumerable generations.

My responsibility is untransferable, no one could replace me.

When Jews speak of messianic experience, they are saying the Messiah lives among us, and in manifold ways we are called to messianic existence or to “being-Messiah.”

With the vision I am developing, human emotion and its spirituality begin in the for-the-other, in being affected by the other. The great event and the very source of its affectivity is in the other!

All the passages in Scripture where one encounters the other seem essential to me.

The responsibility for the other is the good. It’s not pleasant, it is good.

For us, the world of the Bible is a world not of figures, but of faces. They are entirely here and related to us.

…when it comes to unearthing idolatry, we Jews have been specialists for a long time.

[Jewishness] listens and obeys like a guard who never expects to be relieved.

Moses and the prophets preoccupied themselves not with the immorality of the soul but with the poor, the orphan and the stranger.

Authentic Judaism thinks of itself in terms of an inner morality, not an outer dogmatism.

[Judaism] is an asceticism, like the training of a fighter.

The welcome given to the Stranger which the Bible tirelessly asks of us does not constitute a corollary of Judaism, and its love of God… but it is the very content of faith. It is an undeclinable responsibility.

[The path] brings us back to the source, the forgotten, ancient, difficult books, and plunges us into strict and laborious study.

Dostoevsky says that we are all responsible for everything, before everyone, and I more than all the others.

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